Every spring all Japanese celebrate Hanami festival. Literally Hanami 花 見 means flowers admiring. The tradition of admiring cherry blossoms, like many modern Japanese holidays appeared at the imperial palace. It happened in the third century, but especially the tradition of Hanami spread in the Heian era – palace residents spent many hours under flowering trees, enjoying the blossom and the scent of spring.
For me, Japan is, above all, ancient Buddhist temples and Shinto, the traditional two-floor houses, geishas, sushi, high school schoolgirls wearing short skirts and thousands of lights at the crossroads of Shibuya in Tokyo.
Despite the fact that Tokyo is the capital of Japan, Kyoto-its previous capital is the cultural center of the country, so a visit to Japan is not possible without a visit to Kyoto. During World War II, when Japan was under the fire of bombs, Kyoto, with its 1,600 temples and Shinto did not suffer. An interesting fact is that the names of the two cities is the anagram, the word “Kyoto” means capital, and “Tokyo” – East Capital, Tokyo received its name when the capital was moved to Tokyo, previously this city was called “Edo”.
How to get
Japan is very convenient in terms of traffic, two hours by Shinkansen train line and you will overcome 500 km from Tokyo to Kyoto. Few words about this wonderful high-speed trains called “bullets”. The first Shinkansen line was launched in Japan in 1964 with a speed of 210 km / h. Currently, the lines have been upgraded to 285, 300 and 320 km / h. Within 5-6 years all the costs for construction of the line were completely covered and the line began to bring net profits.
Therefore, please buy bento (ready-made lunch in a box) and O-nigiri (large rice balls or triangles with tuna or caviar or other filling) and enjoy the view from the shinkansen windows on Mount Fuji. By the way, they say that the Japanese don’t use name Fuji-yama 山 , as the word “yama or 山 ” already means “mount”, so Japanese used to call it “Fuji-san” with full respect. Japanese suffix “san” corresponds a manifestation of respect. To children or younger Japanese use name suffix “chan”.
The most beautiful historical monuments of Kyoto are located throughout the city. 30 minutes bus ride from the city center will cost 200 yen (about 1.8 USD) will take you to the Golden Pavilion Kinkaku-dji. This Buddhist temple is located in the very cozy and beautiful park. The pavilion was built in 300th years as a villa of one Shogun. The entrance fee should be paid by a tourist, but it is worth to visit. The place is endowed with a very strong energy that permeates the entire body.
If you want to see Japanese girls wearing traditional dressed as geisha or maiko, you should visit Gion district. Girls are taking pictures of their selves and gladly posing for tourists. In this district are many shops with traditional Japanese goods: mochi, variety of sweets, kimonos, fans and other interesting items. In addition, you can try fugu fish in the nearby restaurant. The price is approximately 11,345 yen (about 100 USD). You have to visit Yasaka Shinto Shrine located in this area. Shinto is a Japanese ethnic religion existing on the territory of Japan only.
If you like to communicate with the animal world, we are happy to recommend you to visit the ancient city Nara, former capital of Japan (before Kyoto). You can go there by train to Kyoto suburbs. It differs by the fact that you can meet walking deers in the city park. They are deemed as sacred animals in Japan. They have lived there for many centuries. Now they take away food and tourist maps from tourists, posing for selfies, enjoying the sun. Nara also has a special and very strong energy. In this ancient city you can find numerous temples and strong energy.
Speaking of Tokyo, it is impossible not to mention the Tokyo subway, consisting of 13 lines and includes 285 stations. The fare is 170 yen (about 1.5 USD), free Wi-Fi available on all stations. But we should note that it is rather easy to puzzle out, especially considering that the Japanese are very polite to foreigners and always are willing to help. And since I’m mentioning the human qualities, I would like to focus on why Japanese people amazed me so deeply. Each seller or store owner will bow while greetings or farewells. The cashiers count the change due slowly, showing each banknote to the customer. This attitude is very impressive in the metropolis, where life is busy and full of swings. Japanese found place for important things – polite traditional greetings and farewells, respect and attention. Spending the extra few seconds to these things, the Japanese are getting instead much more. Moreover, the bowing (お辞儀 o-jigi) is not only the tradition; this is real science for locals, who are trying to teach their children to do it correctly and in a proper manner.
I will not attract attention to popular sights in Tokyo, which tells each guide. I will add only that I like Asakusa district very much and definitely would recocoment this disrtict to visit. Among the modern metropolis that looks like New York or any other any big city, you will find lost historical district, which literally means “young and low grass.” There you will find girls and boys that ride on traditional Japanese tourists carts. You will also see gorgeous traditional Japanese garden with redcarpsr and of course the famous ancient Buddhist Senso-ji Temple.
Accommodation/ Where to stay
If you decide to stay in Kyoto for few days, the ideal option for accommodation is traditional Japanese hotel – Ryōkan. There you will sleep on the floor on a traditional mat – tatami. The door to the balcony is made of tissue paper.
Our choice is Ryōkan Gion Hatanaka with traditional Japanese garden and an ideal location. It is located near Maruyama Park, where you can admire the old Sakura blosssom and visit Yasaka Shrine. Аdress: 505 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0074, Japan
If you are a gourmand and sushi lover, you must visit one of the traditional Japanese restaurants, which, incidentally, is not so easy to get in, only in the certain time. Before you visit such restaurant, you should learn more about traditional Japanese food etiquette. How to use chopsticks, how to eat suchi and other important things.
Here is an example of such a restaurant with a wonderful garden. Kyoto garden WASHOKU restaurant
Аdress: Nanzenji Fukuchicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8435, Japan
In general, the restaurant is located on the territory of the Ryōkan, so you can not only enjoy your food but also stay for the night.
If you simply love Japanese food, but not going to comply with all difficult rules and food etiquettes you should go to the Sushi-go-round bar. I have not seen this restaurant concept in Kiev. The idea is there is a driving line with numerous small plates with different types of sushi going round and round, you pick whichever you like and put empty plates nearby. Each sushi has different color of plate, the color of plate determines the price of food. You are billed according to the number of empty plates and their color. Each sitting place is equipped by crane with boiling water and everything to prepare green tea in unlimited quantities. It is a kind of fast food but with healthy dishes.